By Kyle Souza
Winning is nothing new to the Ryan Vanasse. The former Seekonk Speedway Late Model champion, and Pro Stock winner, is inside the top-10 in the third-mile’s all-time wins list, and has been winning races for more than a decade. But this past Friday night, he was in a different pair of shoes when a Vanasse driver visited Victory Lane.
His son, Ryan Vanasse Jr., picked up his first career win in the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Bandit division, driving the No. 11, a yellow and black car many are familiar with. Vanasse started the race and worked his way to the lead by lap two. In a final green flag stretch run to the finish, Vanasse pulled away from the field in dominating fashion, winning the race by over nine seconds.
It was an emotional night — not only for Ryan Jr., picking up his first career win with his hand out the window holding up a winning index finger coming across the line — but also Ryan Sr., who was more than proud to witness it.
“I just wanted to go to Victory Lane with my dad and celebrate with my dad,” Ryan Vanasse Jr. said on this week’s edition of the Seekonk Speedway Race Day Rewind Podcast. “I knew he was going to be emotional when I won.”
“I was just so proud of him… he watched a lot of tape from opening day and we talked through some of the mistakes he had made,” Ryan Vanasse Sr. said. “Before the race, I told him I just wanted him to have fun and work on the two issues we talked about from the week before, and if he did that, he would have a good chance at winning. It was a really proud moment that he took to the coaching.”
Paul Vanasse, Mike Vanasse and the entire Vanasse family were in the pit area to witness it. Seekonk Speedway is running Fast Friday’s without spectators due to restrictions from COVID-19, with two weeks now in the books. For the Vanasse family, this was a marquee moment in their entire racing career.
Ryan Jr’s cousin, Collin Vanasse, also competes in the Bandolero field. Both of them are in their second full-time season of racing in the division. The Seekonk Grand Prix Bandoleros are part of Seekonk’s Youth Racing Association program, hoping to build drivers who will move to Saturday nights before their career is over. The Youth Racing Program has produced names like Dylan Estrella, a former MiniCup winner who is now contending for Pro Stock championships.
“I was just eager for it to end, hoping for no yellows, I was standing next to my brother, and when he was coming up on lapped traffic I was getting really nervous. He was just never backing down, he had such a big lead, and I don’t think he realized it. I keep telling him just not to back down,” Ryan Vanasse Sr. said. “I’m just so proud of how hard both Collin, my nephew and Ryan are working. They are working so hard on and off the track, working on the cars, watching film, practicing on iRacing… everything.”
Now, Ryan Jr. is ready for the next step, while Ryan Sr. hopes to continue to watch his family grow, while his racing takes a back seat for the time being.
“As much of a racer I am and how much I love to be on the track competing, this makes it a lot easier to be able to race with my son and nephew,” Vanasse Sr. said. “I’m really enjoying watching the transition and hoping to continue to get them more seat time and watch them grow. As long as they continue to put the hard work in and support the sport, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s still been a busy summer trying to get everything ready. We’ve been trying to make their cars better every single week. Ryan has proved time and time again that he has the speed and prove that he can finish it off. I’m excited to see him and see Collin challenge for wins. A success for us would be both of them having fun, both of them hopefully winning races, and having fun every single week.”
“It had only been like a year and a few days (before I won),” Ryan Vanasse Jr. joked. “I’m already ready to win more races and a championship.”
For the full interview with the Vanasse family members, catch this week’s episode of the Seekonk Race Day Rewind here: